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Ronald Gene Simmons
Birth name Ronald Gene Simmons
Born July 15, 1940(1940-07-15)
Chicago, Illinois, United States

June 25, 1990 (aged 49)

Cause of Death Lethal injection
Penalty Sentenced to death
Date December 22 – December 28, 1987
Target(s) Family
Location(s) Russellville, Arkansas, United States
Killed 16
Injured 4
Weapon(s) Hammer
H&R revolver (.22)
Ruger revolver (.22)

Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr. (15 July 1940 – 25 June 1990) was a retired United States Air Force sergeant who killed sixteen people, fourteen of whom were members of his family, and wounded four others.


The murders

Shortly before Christmas 1987, Simmons decided to kill all the members of his family. On the morning of 22 December, he first killed his son Gene and his long-suffering wife Rebecca at his home in Dover, Arkansas, by shooting them with a .22 caliber pistol. Thereafter he killed his three-year-old granddaughter Barbara by strangulation. Simmons dumped the bodies in the cesspit he had made his children dig. Simmons then waited for his other children to return to the house. After their arrival, he told them he had presents for them but wanted to give them one at a time. First to receive her "gift" was his daughter, seventeen-year-old Loretta, whom Simmons strangled and held under the water in a rain barrel. The three other children, Eddy, Marianne, and Becky, were killed in the same way.

Around midday on 26 December, the remaining members of the family arrived for their Christmas visit. The first to be killed was Simmons’s son Billy and his wife Renata; both were shot dead. Then their son Trae was strangled and drowned, followed by their daughter. His oldest daughter Sheila who Simmons had an incestuous relationship with and her husband, Dennis McNulty, were also both shot dead. Ronald Simmons’ child by his own daughter Sheila, Sylvia Gail, was strangled, and finally his grandson Michael. Simmons laid the bodies of his whole family in neat rows in the lounge. All the corpses were covered with coats except that of Sheila, who was laid in state covered by Rebecca Simmons' best tablecloth. The bodies of the two grandsons were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane. After the murders, Simmons went for a drink in a local bar, then returned to the house and, apparently oblivious to the corpses lined up around him, spent the rest of the evening and the following day drinking beer and watching television.

On the morning of Monday, 28 December, Simmons drove into Russellville, and at a law office shot dead the receptionist, a young woman named Kathy Kendrick, with whom he had been infatuated and who had rejected him. He next went to an oil company office where he shot dead a man named J.D. Chaffin and wounded the owner, Rusty Taylor, and then drove on to a convenience store where he had previously worked, shooting and wounding two more people. Afterwards he went to the office of the Woodline Motor Freight Company, where he shot and wounded a woman, ending his killing spree. Simmons simply sat in the office and chatted to one of the secretaries while waiting for the police. When they arrived, he handed over his gun and surrendered without any resistance.

Simmons was charged with sixteen counts of murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He refused to appeal his death sentence, stating, "To those who oppose the death penalty in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment."


Simmons was first tried for the Russellville crimes, and a jury convicted him of capital murder and sentenced him to death. He made an additional statement, under oath, supporting his sentence: "I, Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr., want it to be known that it is my wish and my desire that absolutely no action by anybody be taken to appeal or in any way change this sentence. It is further respectfully requested that this sentence be carried out expeditiously." The trial court conducted a hearing concerning Simmons's competence to waive further proceedings, and concluded that his decision was knowing and intelligent.

While on Death Row, Simmons had to be separated from other prisoners as his life was threatened constantly. This was because he refused to appeal his death sentence. The other prisoners believed Simmons was damaging their chances of beating their own death sentences.

On 31 May, Arkansas governor (later President) Bill Clinton signed Simmons' execution warrant, and on 25 June 1990 he died, by the method he had chosen, lethal injection. None of his existing relatives would claim the body, and he was buried in a pauper's grave.

See also

External links



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